SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: June 14, 2022

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Other

Institution(s):Kherson State University

Region & Country:Europe | Ukraine

New or Ongoing:New Incident

Around June 14, 2022, Russian soldiers took over Kherson State University (KhSU) and detained the vice-rector, Maksym Vinnyk; they reportedly released him roughly one week later.

Russian soldiers took Vinnyk to an undisclosed location after entering the campus. By June 23, he was reportedly released.

During their takeover of the campus, Russian soldiers were reportedly accompanied by two Ukrainians who work in education and were described as working in collaboration with Russian forces in the region. Russian forces reportedly appointed one of the aforementioned individuals, Tetyana Tomilina, as rector of the university following the takeover.

According to the Center for Journalistic Investigations, the administration of KhSU had transitioned to remote education and moved management operations to a city in western Ukraine in April.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the detention of a higher education administrator, the seizure of a campus, and interference in higher education governance. Armed forces have an obligation to refrain from detaining civilians, seizing civilian infrastructure, including higher education institutions, and interfering in higher education affairs.

UPDATE: On September 12, 2022, an explosive device was detonated in the apartment building of Tomilina, who Russian occupying forces installed as rector. The explosion was reported as an assassination attempt and Tomilina’s security guard was killed by the attack. The identity of the perpetrator(s) is unknown.

*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)